Remote Observation and Recording (Courts and Tribunals) Regulations 2022

On Tuesday 19 July, I was a member of the committee scrutinising the Remote Observation and Recording (Courts and Tribunals) Regulations 2022. This is a statutory instrument that seeks to govern who can attend remote proceedings, and how this is regulated.

I raised my concern that remote observers are only required to provide their name and email address. This may create a risk that individuals from outside the jurisdiction could make an application and attend proceedings. I asked the minister “Who will do due diligence on who applies? I know that the admin staff at the court—if there are any left—are overworked, so will there be any due diligence on the email addresses, which could be out of the jurisdiction?”.

The Minister confirmed that all that is required is “name and email address”. She suggested that there will be sufficient time for proper research to look into it, and due diligence will be put in place.

I then moved onto the issue of practice direction, asking the Minister “will there be a practice direction, and will she encourage the Lord Chancellor to issue a practice direction so that there is consistency across all the courts and tribunals?”

The Minister responded that the Lord Chief Justice and Senior President of Tribunals have issued joint guidance already on how the remote observation should be facilitated across courts and tribunals. She also suggested that the Queen’s Bench Division has issued specific guidance in relation to criminal proceedings and The Chief Coroner has issued guidance for coroners courts.

My final intervention was on the importance of transparency. I asked the Minister if she had “considered the publication of the names of remote observers at the time a direction is made. How will Parliament know how many people have applied for remote observer status? For example, who are these legal bloggers who are entitled to be part of youth court proceedings? Could she name one of them?”.

The Minister responded that the Department will consider the publication of names in due course. 

You can find the full interaction between myself and the Minister here.